§ Mr. Nicholas Bennett
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment his Department has made of Soviet modernisation of their chemical weapons; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Ian Stewart
The Soviet Union commands the world's largest and most sophisticated chemical warfare capability. In 1987, it admitted that it possessed chemical weapons but the dated examples on display during the visit to the Soviet chemical weapons facility at Shikhany last October, revealed little of Soviet modern weapons or chemical agent technology.
There have been many advances in chemical weapons technology in recent years. New methods of delivering an expanding range of potential new agents have been developed. We assess that the Soviet Union's extensive research and development programme will have enabled it to exploit many of these advances and to develop new weapons utilising advanced and sophisticated chemical agents.